A goal-fest against lowly Notts County, a cup draw against the Noses, a 2-2 at home to Sunderland and Tonev leaves! What did Aston Villa fans learn from a week of goals – and a cryptic message from their much maligned striker?
For all the comedy of Tuesday’s game against Notts County it proved that Villa can indeed score goals. It also proved that playing a 3-1-5-1 formation is not going to become fashionable any time soon. Regardless: two goals in our first three league games, five in our first cup game (and three different scorers! Including our second choice, spent-last-season-at-Brighton, left-back!) proved the team has goals in it which is reassuring, even if “it was only” Notts County – who to be honest could have won, especially if Bunn had been sent off and Richardson’s penalty hadn’t been given or Sinclair had seen it actually saved rather just almost saved.
Speaking of Sinclair – Villa’s number nine – maybe he can pick up where the likes of Weimann and Bent could not…
… and he certainly proved he could be a goal machine with another two goals against Sunderland in the best performance so far this season. The Black Cats set out to stifle Villa after a well-taken free-kick and Clark’s only blip of the game. Villa were rampant for the last twenty minutes and absolutely deserved to win.
The lesson: Villa CAN play with swagger and look dangerous, create chances and run tirelessly. Don’t start with your “it was only” Sunderland either. After a break to get everyone fit and over their dressing-room-flu there’s no reason they can’t carry that style and identify on into the next game against Leicester and the team can really hit their stride in time for the back-to-back derbies against the Baggies and the Blues.
GABBY’S INSTAGRAM MYSTERY
Fans were flip-flopping again (like they did over Delph – “we hate you… we love you… we really hate you”) as Gabby Agbonlahor had a stinker against Palace. In the aftermath he posted a couple of photos on picture sharing app Instagram of his kid playing football and one of him dressed for a night out but, but like Delph the Snake, none of the comments he received were particularly relevant to the photos focusing instead on his performance on Saturday. Eventually he deleted all his photos and posted a message about agreeing with the fans (prompted perhaps by a newspaper poll on whether he should stay at the club or not) and suggesting he needed to have a think.
And naturally, the majority of Villa fans flipped back to loving him again, offering their full support. But the lesson here isn’t about the fans – it’s about Gabby himself.
It’s hard to relate to a footballer’s sphere of existence. Scott Sinclair probably earned more today than most fans in the stadium do in a year. But as aloof as they are, they are human. We like to think they owe us something – that we would try harder or do better playing for our dream team.
Whatever you think of Gabby’s performances and whether he’s had his chances at Villa, you have to admit he’s showing some class in taking the criticism and dealing with it in his own way.
Was he really a victim of the bug that Sherwood suggested washed through the dressing room? Maybe. Would he have started over Sinclair? That might have been hard to justify after Sinclair’s cup hat-trick. Will Gabby come back to torment the Blues in the cup? That remains to be seen.
TONEV-IDENCE OF LAMBERT’S INFLUENCE
Those Villa fans who were won over by Aleksandar Tonev’s YouTube appearances will wonder quite why, when he could clearly play a bit, all he did was shoot. The answer could well be all down to Paul Lambert’s micromanagement.
Lambert’s failures as Villa manager way outnumber his positives, but one of his most frustrating runs was in the last weeks of his management when he tried everything he could to change the team’s form. He tried counter-attack, slow aimless passing, benching Benteke, nothing much helped. He brought back N’Zogbia and seemed to be controlling his every kick like a puppet on strings, telling him to take on defenders, shoot early, ANYTHING to influence the game.
So maybe, just maybe, Tonev was being TOLD to shoot every chance he got? The shackles Lambert (who was amused by the “new” transfer policy of spending what you can raise… laugh it up at the job centre, mate) put on players insisting they track back and help the defense led to tired legs, zero creativity, and a simmering resentment that the players had become hod carriers being made to run up and down ladders rather than craftsmen actually trying to create something beautiful.
Or maybe Tonev was just rubbish? It’s up to Frosinone fans to figure that out.
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